As a student in the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree program in Photography at University of the Arts in Philadelphia, you can study photography in as many ways as you want to, whether you’re interested in a fine art, editorial, fashion, commercial, documentary or studio approach and select your own area of focus. You’ll use UArts’ incredibly full range of media resources and state-of-the-art facilities to master techniques in a variety of disciplines, including digital and analog/film. This bachelor’s degree program is especially suited for those who are highly adaptable and able to express their unique artistic voice in multiple environments using a combination of technical skills, critical thinking and a fine-art aesthetic.
 
With Philadelphia as your campus, you’ll get to know local art organizations, museums, theaters, venues and more. Our accomplished faculty utilize industry connections to offer networking opportunities and behind-the-scenes experiences. Our galleries, as well as visiting artist and speaker series, bring renowned photographers, curators, photo editors, industry professionals and gallery directors to UArts, where you can meet them one-on-one. Beyond Philadelphia, you’ll explore New York City through visits to museums, galleries and major industry expos. UArts Photography students also showcase work in our numerous galleries and exhibition spaces.
 
Through internships, you’ll apply your knowledge in various studios, galleries and production houses in the city and beyond. You'll work on real-world projects for outside companies and institutions. For example, in one project, students shot all of the photographs for the annual report of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Studying at UArts prepares you for a diverse set of careers in photography. You’ll be able to take courses in other degree programs across the university and minor in 23 disciplines. The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography degree program is cross-disciplinary, and there are ample opportunities to collaborate with students majoring in different fields such as dance, film, fine art, music or theater.

About the Curriculum

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography degree program provides practical, professional training balanced with a fine-art aesthetic. Through visiting artists, gallery exhibitions, internships, diverse faculty, and significant engagement opportunities with the fine art and photo education communities, you’ll develop technical proficiency and an innovative, creative background preparing you for any career in the photo industry.
 

A student and faculty members discuss their film.

Students who complete the Photography program will

  • demonstrate independent, creative problem solving and original thinking. They will exhibit a distinct and personal approach to art making.
  • demonstrate knowledge of contemporary issues and historical precedents. They will have an appreciation for experimentation/innovation and the traditions of making as applied to contemporary photographic practices.
  • acquire and demonstrate the professional skills needed to be successful as practicing artists, entrepreneurs and productive citizens, including further study at the graduate level.
  • be able to talk and write about art (including their own work) critically, intelligently and with considerable insight.
  • acquire the level of technical skill required for them to reach their career goals in an ever-evolving medium. They will be able to establish a studio practice appropriate to their ideas and demonstrate a deep familiarity with materials and processes.

During your first year in the Photography degree program, you’ll learn the fundamental skills of art making and critical thinking while connecting with art history and contemporary art. You’ll learn the principal techniques used in photography, including camera operation, developing, printing using both darkrooms, as well as digital technologies and basic lab use. You’ll use the city as a resource and collaborate with other students from the School of Art.

A foundation of descriptive photography is key in your second year, which you’ll develop through concepts and skills such as black-and-white photography, digital photography, darkroom control, medium and large-format photography, and printing in analog and digital platforms. In Sophomore Projects, you’ll combine research- and studio-based practices to establish a working archive in which you can effectively communicate your artistic voice, both orally and in writing.

A student is photographing a model during an outdoor photo shoot.

As you progress into your third year, you’ll study topics such as large-format photography, studio practice, artificial lighting, digital techniques, analog color photography, software and tethering practices, color management, printing, and photographic theory and criticism. In the course called Junior Projects, you’ll expand your working archive and develop your individual studio practice within the context of a cross-discipline dialog. You can choose to pursue specialized issues, such as documentary/street photography, fashion and editorial photography, non-silver processes, print surface-alteration, and more.

When you’re a senior, you’ll study the practice of professional photography with attention to various career opportunities, portfolio presentation, business practices, professional ethics, photographic law, intellectual property in the age of digital duplication and personal objectives. In addition, you’ll work in advanced digital techniques and studio courses and gain practical experience through internships.

Thesis Portfolio and Exhibition
Your senior year is capped off with engaging in the production of a thesis portfolio and preparing work for a public exhibition, and leave UArts with an independent body of photographic artwork of your choice and direction. You’ll frame your thesis, go through the process of self-definition as a photographer and artist, and expand on theory and criticism.
 
Laptop & Camera Requirements
At UArts, all incoming freshman and transfer students are required to have laptops. Students with qualifying laptops are given access to install university-licensed software for free. Students in the Photography bachelor’s degree program are required to have a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera.
 
Learn about the recommended laptop specs for Photography students.
 
See a list of free university-licensed software.

Sample Curriculum
Duration: Four years, full time
Credits: 120
 
Major requirements: 63 credits
Discipline history: 12 credits
Critical Studies: 30 credits
Free electives: 15 credits

First Year
Fall Semester: 16.5 credits
Image/Time (3c)
Object/Environment (3c)
Drawing: Objects & Space or Video Production (3c)
Art History Survey I (3c)
Writing I Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)
 
Spring Semester: 16.5 credits
Photo 101 (3c)
Narrative (3c)
Color & the Lens (3c)
Art History Survey II (3c)
Writing II Placement (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (1.5c)

Second Year
Fall Semester: 15 credits
Intro to Black & White Photography (3c)
Sophomore Projects (3c)
History of Photography (3c)
Thinking Through Science (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)
 
Spring Semester: 15 credits
Intermediate Black & White Photography (3c)
Digital Photo Workshop (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c) 

Third Year
Fall Semester: 15 credits
Studio Photography (3c)
Junior Projects/Discourse I (3c)
Critical Issues in Photography (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Discipline history (your choice) (3c)
 
Spring Semester: 15 credits
Advanced Studio Photography (3c)
Photography course (your choice) (3c)
Junior Projects/Discourse II (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

Fourth Year
Fall Semester: 13.5 credits
Senior Photo Workshop (3c)
Advanced Digital Workshop (3c)
Photo Practicum or Photo Internship (1.5–3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
 
Spring Semester: 13.5 credits
Contemporary Issues in Photography (3c)
Senior Photo Workshop (3c)
Professional Practices (1.5c)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3c)
Free elective (your choice) (3c)

 

To maintain academic good standing, undergraduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0.

Explore the full curriculum.
 
Learn about transferring to UArts, including transferring credits from a program at another college.
 

Featured Students 

Our students are storytellers with a distinct and personal approach to art making. Their works have been featured in magazines, local exhibitions and more.

Click on the images below to read more.

A headshot of Justin C. Henry '23 (Photography)
Justin C. Henry

'23

Photography (BFA)
Artist whose dream is to travel around the world and see difference things
Nyah Thompson '22
Nyah Thompson

'22

Photography (BFA)
Philadelphia-based artist whose work embodies elements of queer expression through fashion and art
Devon Thoms '22
Devon Thoms

'22

Photography (BFA)
Fashion and portrait photographer and drag artist whose work combines photography and graphic design
A headshot of Hannah Bohrer
Hannah Bohrer

'21

Photography (BFA)
Photographer whose work focuses on portrait, documentary and fine art photography
James Izlar Headshot
James Izlar

'21

Photography (BFA)
Photographer whose work spans from everyday life to intimate, sometimes abstract, portraits
Georgia Wescott Headshot
Georgia Wescott

'21

Photography (BFA)
Photographer whose work has been featured in Restaurant Informer, Underground Pool and more
Destiny Williams '21
Destiny Williams

'21

Photography (BFA)
AKA Boujee Mustard; photographer known for her series Thank You and FEARNONI**A

Featured Faculty

In the Photography major, you'll study with top professionals with extensive experience in a wide range of concentrations, including fine art, editorial, fashion, commercial, documentary and studio practice.

Click on the images below to read more.

Julianna Foster Headshot
Julianna Foster

MFA '06 (Book Arts & Printmaking)

Photography (BFA)
Interim program director, award winning artist for her recent project Geographical Lore
A headshot of Stephen Foster
Stephen Foster

Photography (BFA)
AICAD Fellow; Award-winning, interdisciplinary artist specializing in photography
DAvid Graham headshot
David Graham

Photography (BFA)
Internationally recognized as a photographer of the American cultural landscape
Barbara Proud
Barbara Proud

Photography (BFA)
Award-winning photographer; her project First Comes Love spotlights stories of longtime LGBTQ couples

Internships

You’ll gain professional experience and a behind-the-scenes view of the photo industry during an internship. Throughout your course of study, you are required to complete an internship or take the Photo Practicum course. While students are responsible for finding their own internship, they often utilize faculty’s connections in the industry to find opportunities.

A student and faculty member work in the Photography studio.

Organizations that have hosted prior internships include

  • Allure Magazine
  • Centro Nueva Creación
  • ELLE Magazine
  • Philadelphia Daily News
  • Philadelphia Magazine
  • Philadelphia Photo Arts Center
  • The Center for Emerging Visual Artists
  • The Photo Review
  • Vox Populi Gallery
  • WXPN Radio/The Key

Career Preparation

In the Photography program, you’ll take courses that focus on the study of professional practices. You’ll learn about various career opportunities, portfolio presentation, business practices, professional ethics, photographic law, intellectual property in the age of digital duplication and managing your personal objectives. Through a variety of guest artists and speakers, you’ll learn from and network with professionals in the field.

Common career paths for Photography graduates include

  • Art direction
  • Commercial and industrial photography
  • Gallery manager or assistant
  • Photo editor
  • Photography/Art instructor
  • Photojournalism
  • Portrait photography
  • Studio manager or assistant

Featured Alumni

Click on the images below to read more.

German Ayala Vazquez Headshot
German Ayala Vazquez

BFA '20

Photography (BFA)
Published in Vogue Italia, Hunger magazine, Sad Punk Press magazine and more
Jessica Lim headshot
Jessica Lim

BFA '16

Photography (BFA)
Works for prominent Los Angeles editorial/advertising photographer
Molly Smith
Molly Smith

BFA '15

Photography (BFA)
Assistant to renowned photographer Sally Mann
A headshot of Takashi Aoyama BFA '14
Takashi Aoyama

BFA '14

Photography (BFA)
Tokyo-based photographer; published in National Geographic, The New York Times, Time and more
MArcus Branch headshot flowers in hair
Marcus Branch

BFA '14

Photography (BFA)
Published in Paper magazine, Interview magazine, W magazine, i-D magazine, VICE.com
Erin Kirk large post
Erin Kirk

BFA '06

Photography (BFA)
Marine Corps combat photographer; published in Time Magazine and The New York Times
Shea Winter Roggio headshot
Shea Winter Roggio

BFA '05

Photography (BFA)
Published and featured in Need Magazine, New York Observer, The New York Times, Philadelphia Magazine, and Runner’s World
A headshot of alum Dominic Episcopo
Dominic Episcopo

BFA '89

Photography (BFA)
Internationally recognized artist and pioneer of the food and lifestyle photography movement
David Lebe - Philadelphia Museum of Art
David Lebe

BFA '70

Photography (BFA)
Renowned photographer whose works have been exhibited nationally and internationally

Alumni Accomplishments

The Photography program has a long history of successful alumni including the likes of Irving Penn ’38, George Krause BFA ’58, David Lebe BFA ’70, Susan Welchman BFA ’70, Zeke Berman BFA ’73, Deborah Willis BFA ’75, Jayne Wexler BFA ’83, Catherine Edelman BFA ’85, and Matt Suib BFA ’95. Our alumni go on to careers in a myriad of photography and related fields and are winners of MacArthur Foundation and Guggenheim Fellowships. They have exhibited and been published nationally and internationally, have become editors, art directors, publishers and makers. Some have gone on to complete their MFA and others have established successful businesses.

The Photography program has state-of-the-art facilities available for use during and outside class. Maintained by the Office of Technology and Information Resources, the facilities are located on the 14th and 15th floors of Terra Hall. The recently renovated spaces include a new digital imaging lab, a laptop lab, a dedicated Photography classroom and a Photography program gallery. As a Photography student, you’ll be able to store your projects and materials on the same floors as the studios and labs.

A student takes a close look at their film in the darkroom.

Darkrooms 

  • two 16-station, air-conditioned, black-and-white darkrooms with
    • 4 x 5” Beseler 45V-XL series enlargers with three lens turrets
  • one special projects darkroom with 
    • one 8 x 10” in Beseler 45V-XL enlarger 
    • one 8 x 10” Durst color dichroic enlarger on rails 
    • mural printing capability (prints as large as 4 x 6’)
    • one Jobo RA-4 tabletop color print processor with a 14” wide capacity
  • nine Aristo cold light enlarger light sources
  • two film processing labs with 
    • five micron water filtration systems
    • temperature controlled sinks
    • silver recovery systems
    • DSA Senrac film dryers
    • Kreonite film drying cabinets with filtered air

Photography Studio

  • specially designed high-ceiling photography shooting studio
  • daylight studio with north-facing windows

Digital Imaging Lab

  • 16 stations
  • 16 Apple 21” iMac computers (16GB RAM, 3.1GHz processors)
  • six Epson SureColor P600 inkjet printers
  • 14 SVII-Calibration/SVIISOFT display calibration software and hardware
  • eight Epson V700 Flatbed/Film scanners with Silverfast Ai8 Studio scanning software
  • two 80” NEC displays
  • two X-Rite iOne Color calibration system with Profile Maker Pro software
  • two X-Rite iO automatic calibration plotter for the iOne Color calibration system
Students and faculty set up a blue backdrop for a photo shoot in the Photography studio.

Laptop Lab

  • 12 stations
  • 12 NEC SpectraView II MultiSync LCD2690WUXi with 26” wide gamut displays
  • one Epson Stylus Pro 7900 24” wide-format inkjet printer
  • one Canon Realis video projector
  • one Xerox Phaser 7100 color, tabloid-capable laser printer
  • one Epson SureColor P600 inkjet printer
  • one Epson Expression 1640 XL large-format flatbed scanner
  • one Hasselblad Flextight X5 virtual drum scanner
  • paper storage space for students

Wide-Format Printing Suite

  • three Epson Stylus Pro 9900 44” wide-format inkjet printer
  • two Epson Stylus Pro 7900 24” wide-format inkjet printer
  • one 21” Apple iMac
  • four 27” Apple iMacs
  • two flat paper storage for oversized prints

Photo Finishing Room

  • one Excalibur 5000 cutter
  • two matcutters
  • four print mounting presses
  • one copy-stand

Photography Classroom

  • 80” NEC display

Photography Gallery

The gallery offers a regular schedule of contemporary photography exhibitions by established and emerging photographers from around the world. Our recently expanded and renovated gallery space includes 75–100 linear feet of gallery walls, projection capabilities and state-of-the-art tunable LED lights on the 15th floor of Terra Hall.

Learn more about the Photography Gallery.

Sol Mednick Project Space & Gallery

The only endowed gallery in Philadelphia dedicated solely to the exhibition of photography and supporting the practice of emerging practitioners, the Sol Mednick Project Space and Gallery was founded by longtime UArts professor Ray K. Metzker. The gallery, named in honor of famed photographer and UArts alum Sol Mednick, offers contemporary photography exhibitions by emerging photographers from the Philadelphia area, as well as serving as a makers and exhibition space for current students. The Sol Mednick Project Space and Gallery is located on the 15th floor of Terra Hall.

Learn more about the Sol Mednick Project Space and Gallery.

OTIS Media Resource Center

The OTIS Media Resource Center (Equipment Room) serves students, faculty and staff by lending equipment, managing facilities and providing consultation during the fall and spring semesters. Staffed by two full-time supervisors, it is located on the 12th floor of Terra Hall. As a UArts student, you can sign out any equipment you may need for classes and special projects.

Center for Immersive Media 

The Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction. As a student at UArts, you can take elective courses that utilize CIM. The space includes

A student tests out motion-capture technology with projections.
  • an optical motion-capture system for full-body performance capture and location-based VR applications;
  • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, and a control station;
  • 16 Genelec speakers for a 3rd Order Ambisonic system; 
  • a 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and
  • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for the development of installations and virtual environments. 

Learn more about CIM.

Each year, the Photography program at UArts illuminates and inspires students and the public through the work of exhibiting and visiting artists.

Fall 2020 Guest Lectures

Explore more of this year’s events at UArts.

Past Seasons

  • John Carlano (Exhibition & Lecture)
  • Janet Delaney (Exhibition)
  • Matt Eich (Lecture)
  • Amit Elkayam (Lecture)
  • Stephen Foster (Lecture)
  • Jill Freedman (Exhibition)
  • Amy Giese, Sandi Haber Fifield, Christopher Russell (Exhibition and Lecture by A.Giese)
  • Henry Hornstein (Lecture)
  • George Krause ’58 (Exhibition)
  • Mary Magseman & Stephan Hillerbrand (Exhibition)
  • Nelson Morales (Exhibition & Lecture)
  • Zora Murff (Exhibition)
  • Patrick Nagatani (Screening with Lynn Estomin)
  • Louie Palu (Exhibition & Lecture)
  • Kris Sanford (Exhibition)
  • James Singewald (Exhibition)
  • Rafael Soldi (Lecture)
  • Shawn Theodore (Exhibition & Lecture)
  • Hồng- n Trương (Lecture)
  • Kurt Tong (Exhibition)
  • Stacey Tyrell (Exhibition & Lecture)
  • Daniella Zalcman (Lecture)

Photography Program Gallery Exhibitions 
The Photography program’s gallery puts on seven exhibitions each year. Exhibitions feature artists of diverse backgrounds and practices. There are three exhibitions each semester and a sophomore student exhibition over the summer. Exhibiting artists have included Sandi Haber Fifield, Nelson Morales, Zora Murff, Kris Sanford, Shawn Theodore and Stacey Tyrell. 

Student Exhibitions 
At the end of the spring semester, sophomores install an exhibition of their work in the Photography program gallery and juniors install a “pin-up” show in the hallway of the Photography floor. This gives students the opportunity to consider the curation of their work. The seniors exhibit in Hamilton Hall as part of their thesis work as well as in an off-campus exhibition venue of their choosing. The senior off-campus exhibition is organized solely by students, from contracting a location to curating, installing, promoting and managing.

Admissions Deadline: There is no set deadline. UArts operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means we will receive and process applications throughout the year as space remains available in each program. 

The following materials are required for your application.

  • A completed application for admission
  • A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • Official high school transcripts 
    • Official transcripts from the high school(s) you have attended are required. For transfer students, transcripts from each college you have attended are required. They must be mailed directly by your school in a sealed envelope to the Office of Admissions, emailed directly from your school, or sent through a secure electronic transcript delivery service. Transcripts sent or emailed by students are not considered official. They should be sent to the Office of Admissions, University of the Arts, 320 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu
    • For transcripts from outside the U.S., refer to the instructions for international students.
  • A writing sample
    • Your writing sample should address one of the following questions, interpreted as you wish. There is no right or wrong answer.
      1. When and how did you discover your creativity?
      2. How will University of the Arts help you achieve your creative and professional goals?
      3. How do you want your creativity to impact the future?
      4. Submit an existing piece of writing, such as an essay or class assignment, on any topic.
    • Pay attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation. There is no required word count, but we recommend a 250-word statement, which is about one double-spaced page. You can upload your sample with your application for admission, or email it to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu.
  • Your portfolio 
    • All students applying to visual arts programs—those in the schools of Art, Film and Design—are required to submit 15–20 examples of original artwork. You may choose to include work from a variety of media or select one area of focus you want to highlight. Your portfolio should demonstrate your creativity, showcase your skills, represent the art forms you have studied and highlight your ability to communicate ideas. Get more tips about submitting your portfolio
  • International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency
  • Optional Materials 

For more information, visit our first-year application checklist and transfer checklist.

Apply now.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 80 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about scholarships and financial aid.

Events

A model poses in a fashionable outfit during a photo shoot.

NYC Shows, Exhibitions & Fashion Week
Each semester, there is a bus trip to New York City timed around leading Photography industry trade shows and exhibitions such as The Photography Show held by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD), PhotoPlus Expo and Photoville. 

New York Fashion Week, held in February and September of each year, is a semi-annual series of programs related to international fashion collections, which Photography students in Studio and Fashion/Editorial courses attend and participate in public events.

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